Mi’kmaw activist’s assault charge dropped in Eisner Cove wetland protest
Indigenous sentencing circle to decide on obstruction charge
February 14, 2023, 6:34 pm ASTLast Updated: February 14, 2023, 6:45 pm
A Mi’kmaw grandmother is no longer being charged for assaulting a peace officer — by holding up an eagle feather — while protecting the Eisner Cove wetland.
A remaining charge for obstruction will be dealt with through restorative justice via the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network.
“Now, my people can sentence me,” said Darlene Gilbert outside of the Dartmouth provincial courthouse on Feb.10 where family and friends were supporting her.
“I was feeling anxiety … and confidence that I didn’t do what they were accusing me of,” said Gilbert, also known as Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman, in an interview with the Signal later that day.
She is a known treaty advocate for unceded Mi’kmak’i territory.
Gilbert’s lawyer Mitch Broughton called it “a very fair resolution. We are glad that we finally got there.”
The charges stem from a Sept. 6, 2022 incident.
Gilbert, 57, was arrested with three men, ages 45, 41 and 27, for allegedly blocking machinery from entering the wooded wetlands at Mount Hope Avenue near Highway 111.
That is where a major residential project, Mount Hope Village with 875 units spanning six blocks, by Clayton Developments is in the works.
All were charged with obstruction.
But Gilbert had a second charge.
A Halifax Police media release stated officers arrived at the scene to “ensure public safety” and “while being arrested one of the four also assaulted an officer.”
Video posted on actor Elliot Page’s Instagram account shows Gilbert being led away in handcuffs by two officers.
View this post on Instagram
Her connection to the Hollywood actor goes back to a documentary produced and directed by Page, There’s Something in the Water.
It shows Gilbert’s work in protecting the Shubenacadie River from a plan to store fracked gas in underground salt caverns near Stewiacke, N.S. Calgary-based energy company AltaGas cancelled its Alton Gas project in October 2021.
Gilbert told the Signal it is her duty to help protect one of Dartmouth’s last intact green spaces.
She is scheduled to return to court on May 23 to give judge Amy Sakalauskas an update on her restorative justice progress.
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